By Nancy Price
Last week, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that the state would move to Stage 5 on Sept. 26, giving businesses, including restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the green light to open at full capacity for the first time since March.
Although most counties, including Johnson, were able to open at 100 percent, Marion remains at a 50 percent capacity. Lisa DeCamp, manager of Vito Provolone’s on South Meridian Street is OK with that. “If the mayor said we could be at 100 percent we’d still have to have the tables 6 feet apart,” said DeCamp. “Honestly, it’s fine for us because we’re going curbside (pickup) and we probably sell twice as much out the door that’s making up for lack of (customers) inside. We’re faring pretty well.”
“As of this past Saturday, we went back to 100 percent,” said Evan Dant, shift manager for Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza in Greenwood. The bar area may be a bit more challenging for guests to remember to distance socially, yet “we’ve done a good job of keeping people 6 feet apart as far as guidelines go,” added Dant. “There are some people who still don’t agree with the mask mandate,” although “we stop those without a mask.”
“I haven’t noticed that much of a difference (since reopening at full capacity),” Dant said. “We’ve been lucky in that regard; we’ve stayed consistently busy. Pizza translates so well into carryout.”
Yet, as cooler temperatures set in during fall, concerns remain over local businesses that have had the advantage the past several months to seat guest outside. “I think the winter months will prove to be more challenging for restaurants as people will not have the option to eat outside,” said Renee Harlor, executive director for the Greater Beech Grove Chamber of Commerce. “There has been a lot said about the upcoming months resulting in an increase in cases. I think this may deter people from visiting businesses during those months.”
Harlor encourages the Southside community to support local businesses still struggling during this time. “If you aren’t going out as you once were because of COVID, consider shopping local by ordering take out, buying gift cards and shopping online,” she said. “Our small business community is feeling the impact of this.”
Another way to support locally-owned businesses is to participate in this year’s 01 on Nov. 28, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses and communities across the county. “We are taking precautions and following all recommendations set forth by the health department,” Harlor added.
For more information, go to beechgrovechamber.org or Facebook: Greater Beech Grove Chamber of Commerce.